In his first 100 days in office, California Gov. Gavin Newsom quickly set about launching parts of the progressive agenda he promised during his campaign.
On the day Newsom was sworn into office, the Democrat vowed to expand Medi-Cal coverage for immigrants in the country illegally and drive down the high cost of prescription drugs.
Since then, Newsom has also promised to expand paid family leave, tax credits for low-income workers and early childhood education. He vowed to modernize the state Department of Motor Vehicles, crack down on cities that refused to plan for adequate housing and retool California’s high-speed rail system, which has been plagued by cost overruns.
Newsom also worked behind the scenes to help settle the teachers’ strike in Los Angeles, inflamed California’s feud with President Trump by pulling national guard troops from the U.S.-Mexico border and traveled to Washington, New York and El Salvador.
Susan Kennedy, who served as chief of staff to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and cabinet secretary to Gov. Gray Davis, said one of the most significant moments of Newsom’s first 100 days was his decision to impose a moratorium on the death penalty, for which he won the praise of criminal justice advocates and drew the ire of death penalty supporters, who said the governor defied the will of California voters who refused to abolish the death penalty in a 2016 statewide vote.
“It showed understanding, strategically, of how you set the table as to what people should expect of him. It gave him credibility,” Kennedy said. “He knew he was going to get the crap kicked out of him.”
Here are some of the key moments of Newsom’s first chapter as California governor, including the promises made, action taken or not taken, and what could come next.
Newsom promised to consolidate the purchase of prescription drugs by state government agencies. He signed an executive order to have state agencies begin studying how to implement the drug purchasing system and what drugs to prioritize for bulk purchases. On Wednesday, Newsom announced that Los Angeles County would join the coalition of state agencies in drug purchasing.
The governor has promised to expand access to Medi-Cal, the government-funded healthcare program for low-income Californians, to immigrants up to age 26 who entered in U.S. illegally.
The proposal was included in Newsom’s budget and remains under consideration by the Legislature.
Newsom also said he would create a state-level “individual mandate” requiring Californians to have health insurance coverage in lieu of the federal requirement under the Affordable Care Act that was all but eliminated last year by Congress.
The proposal is under consideration in the Legislature.
In March, Newsom imposed a temporary moratorium on the death penalty that will remain in effect while he’s in office by issuing an executive order granting reprieves to every inmate on California’s death row.
The governor has promised to end the state’s use of private prisons. But making room for inmates now held in private facilities will depend on vacancies opening up in California prisons.
Additional details have not been released. The change will require action by the Legislature, which is pending.
Housing and homelessness
Newsom proposed $1.3 billion in state funds for cities and counties as a financial incentive to plan for new homes and support local homeless housing efforts.
The governor proposed spending $500 million to help local governments build shelters and add services to help the homeless.
As part of his aggressive push on housing, Newsom has also promised programs to help spark the building of 3.5 million new homes between 2019 and 2025.
Newsom said he would partly finance the effort by dipping into the existing cash reserves held by the state program. Newsom’s proposed budget included funding for the early steps of this program, and the overall concept is under consideration in the Legislature.
Newsom has proposed expanding the state’s earned income tax credit for low-income families to provide up to $1 billion in cash payments, to be paid out of the state’s general fund. The proposal was included in Newsom’s budget, which is now under consideration in the Legislature.
Newsom has promised a comprehensive plan to address wildfire threats and help keep California’s investor-owned utilities out of bankruptcy due to billions of dollars in wildfire-related costs.